New Secondary Internet Domain for Maori Sites Approved

The Council of Internet New Zealand, the nonprofit organization which manages New Zealand’s Internet domains, unanimously approved the secondary Internet domain ‘maori.nz’ on July 19. The domain is believed to be the first in the world to be named after an indigenous people.

The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. They are a Polynesian people more closely related culturally to other Polynesian peoples, such as Tongans, than their well-known neighbors, the Australian Aborigines.

The approval marks the end of a process that began in November 2001, when the New Zealand Maori Internet Society/Te Whanau Ipurangi proposed the domain name to Internet New Zealand. Anyone may propose domain names, but in order to gain approval, they must demonstrate why the new name is necessary and gain sufficient votes from the Internet community. A straw poll conducted in March 2002 showed 91.7% support for the domain.

The new domain is the eleventh secondary domain to be approved in New Zealand, and is the first since 1996. While the secondary domain ‘iwi.nz’ already exists, it is closely moderated, making it inaccessible to most Internet users for web sites and email addresses. ‘Iwi’ refers to large social groups roughly equivalent to tribes within Maori society. Only about 36 groups are defined as iwi, and not all of them are registered.

Karaitiana Taiuru, chairperson of the New Zealand Maori Internet Society, has stated that the maori.nz domain will be unmoderated, so that those individuals and organizations who do not fit within existing secondary domains such as .co and .org will be free to use the new domain.

“It’s a good opportunity for groups or individuals to create Internet identities that clearly say where their interests are, and recognizes New Zealand’s unique Maori culture and identity,” said Mr. Taiuru.

While both the New Zealand Maori Internet Society and Internet New Zealand were eager to implement the new domain name, the launch has been delayed until August 30, when the new Domain Name Commissioner and ‘.nz’ Oversight Committee will make their recommendations for the process to the Internet New Zealand Council meeting.

Citing concerns about implementing the domain in an equitable fashion, Internet New Zealand president Keith Davidson explained on July 19, “Internet New Zealand is conscious that this is an historic decision, and while we would have liked to announce a go-live date today, we felt that we had to get all the implementation issues sorted out properly first. What we are all after is a successful, fair, and hassle-free launch of ‘maori.nz’ and the Council believes that is worth waiting the extra month.”